Victorian Industry Participation Policy (Local Jobs First) Amendment Bill 2018

July 26, 2018

Second reading

I am pleased to rise and make a contribution on the Victorian Industry Participation Policy (Local Jobs First) Amendment Bill 2018.

I welcome this legislation and the direction it takes.

The purposes of the bill are to provide for governance, compliance and enforcement of the policy behind the bill.

It requires reports to be made to Parliament regarding implementation and compliance, and it mandates local jobs wherever possible.

This is such an important thing for my electorate, because never before have we seen so many projects either getting underway or being about to get underway. I note, first of all, that the new Shepparton courthouse has recently been completed. It is a major five-storey building, which I can tell you, in the middle of Shepparton, really stands out. It is an excellent facility and, as a practising lawyer, I have been in the old one for many years and bemoaned the fact that it did not suit the purposes or the needs of the local community, the local legal profession or members of the judiciary who visit on a regular basis. It is wonderful to see that building completed.

Today the new Koori Court in Shepparton is being opened, and what a wonderful thing that is. We have actually had a Koori Court in Shepparton, but it was a very tiny little room that made it very difficult for families and all of those people who need to be in a courtroom during the hearing of a case to be present. The newer, bigger facilities, with the latest technology, are truly outstanding. That was a project where a certain amount of local content was required and was used.

There are many projects that have been funded during my short time in Parliament by working with the government of the day. The Shepparton district had suffered such neglect for such a long time across a whole range of areas. Just to start with, the redevelopment of Goulburn Valley Health, which is our major regional health service, has been funded for the first stage and the works are now underway. That is such an important project for our region. It had languished for years. There had been master plan after master plan on the table and lobbying to try to get the funds to make it happen, so I was very pleased when the government announced in its second budget the funding to proceed with the redevelopment of Goulburn Valley Health. Lend Lease have been awarded the contract for that, the overarching major contract for that project, and it has been a pleasure to meet with them and the project managers at the hospital to see the works commencing, and to be sure that local content is being used.

Over the course of the last three weekends the whole hospital has had to have its electricity supply shut down. Something like 18 major generators have been brought in to keep the hospital functioning. It is a major piece of work, and the electricity contractor that is doing that work is a big local Shepparton firm. It is so good to see that happening. It is a firm that employs apprentices.

Part of the mandate for the development of this hospital is also that there be a percentage of Indigenous employment. That is so important in my electorate because it has the highest Indigenous population outside of metropolitan Melbourne. We have very high unemployment rates. We still struggle with young people completing education and, on that note, I would just like to mention a college in Shepparton, the Academy of Sport, Health and Education. This was set up some time ago as a collaboration between the Rumbalara Football and Netball Club and the University of Melbourne, and it has taken young students on board, assisting them all the way through their secondary education and also through their engagement with the local TAFE college. There are young people now coming out of that college and taking up jobs in our communities. It is a project that is so well worth supporting.

I might add that just in relation to our Indigenous community, the government funded this year approximately $23 million for the Munarra Centre of Regional Excellence. That is to be a very big sporting, educational and cultural building. I have seen the plans for it and they are truly impressive. Schools such as the Academy of Sport, Health and Education will move into that facility when it has ultimately been built. It will hopefully develop sporting people throughout the region a bit along the lines of the Michael Long Learning and Leadership Centre in Darwin, which is there to promote sporting opportunities for young Indigenous people. I have not had the chance to visit the Michael Long centre, but I really look forward to an opportunity to do that just to get the feel of how that operates and how we might replicate the parts that will work in Shepparton as we go forward.

Shepparton Art Museum has been housed in the civic centre for a very long time, and while it is a very lovely gallery it is unable to do justice to what we have in our community. The basement there has one of the best ceramics collections in Australia, but so much of it is just hidden underground and not on display. There is funding for the new Shepparton Art Museum, which is going to be a multistorey building on the banks of Lake Victoria as you drive into town, and those of you have been into Shepparton will know that as you drive in from Melbourne, on the left is Victoria Park Lake, which is a very beautiful part of our environment, with walking tracks and indigenous flora and fauna. On the edge of the lake the old Shell service station has now been demolished, and we are about to see the commencement of the new Shepparton Art Museum, which will be an absolute treasure and will give the old gallery the opportunity to actually bring out and display this incredible collection that we have. It is something that will cater to the whole community, with a whole range of coffee shops. There will be an Indigenous area, and there will be all these opportunities to display what we truly have in our collections in the Goulburn Valley.

Three hundred and fifty-six million dollars has now been invested in the upgrade of the rail between Shepparton and Seymour. I know all of you in this place have heard me go on and on and on about that for a very long time. It was a passion of mine long before I came to the Parliament to try and improve our rail services from what were four old, shabby services a day on the 1960s classic fleet of trains, which we will still have for a few years before we get the VLocity trains, but the work had to be done on the tracks before we could ask the government, really, to deliver the next stage, which will be the trains. That has very much been seen as part of the overall project. There are something like 58 level crossings between Shepparton and Seymour. Many of those will have to be rationalised and dealt with, but there will be a passing loop for freight trains, so our passenger train can go through, and a stabling at the Shepparton station for the trains to be able to park overnight, leading to nine return services a day. Again, this is such a great opportunity for local contractors to be able to engage in so much of the work that will be undertaken — local content, local work and local young people having job opportunities.

We saw youth unemployment as a real issue in the years before I came to this place. Together with the new Shepparton education plan and all these works that are being undertaken, there is a real opportunity for much greater employment. I hope we will attract many more people to come and live in a place like Shepparton. It is the fifth largest regional centre in Victoria and is truly a wonderful place to live and has a lot to offer, cheap housing included.

A Shepparton bypass has received some funding to undertake some of the basic work that will be needed to plan and go forward. That will mean the building of a second river crossing. That is something that I will, if re-elected to this place, work very hard with the government of the day to see happen, because it is a major project of about $300 million to get highways built and to bring in that second river crossing, which is so important. We only have one major river crossing between the east and west, and when it comes to fire, ambulance and emergency services, that becomes a real issue for us. So to have that river crossing for convenience but also for our emergency services will be excellent.

I believe that an industry participation office is going to be set up in Shepparton, and I am really pleased about that because with all of these projects underway to have our own office in Shepparton, working with contractors to help them gain work, is wonderful.

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